Cummins History 101: Cummins and the Indianapolis 500

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1934-Indy500-No5CarIf you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, perhaps you’ve noticed that throughout the month of May we’ve been celebrating our involvement in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500. Now that the checkered flag has flown and the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 is officially in the books, how about a little recap?

1911: The first Indy 500 took place on May 30, 1911, and Cummins founder, Clessie Cummins, was a member of the pit crew for Marmon – the company he worked for at the time – and their race-winning entry, the Marmon “Wasp.”

1931: Clessie returned to the race 20 years later in 1931, this time with a car bearing the Cummins name. The car ran the entire race nonstop, finishing 13th on just $1.40 worth of “furnace oil.”

1934 and 1950: Cummins continued to participate in the Indy 500 with two cars in the 1934 race and one car, dubbed “The Green Hornet,” in the 1950 race.

1952: In 1952, the No. 28 Cummins Diesel Special became the first and last diesel to capture the pole at the famed Brickyard.

1987: Cummins returned to the 500 in 1987 as a sponsor, and with Al Unser Sr. behind the wheel, the company experienced victory lane for the first time. The win placed Unser amongst an elite class of drivers who have won the Indy 500 a total four times.

The No. 6 car from the 1934 race and the No. 25 car from the 1987 race are on display in the Cummins Engine Museum at the Corporate Office Building in Columbus, IN. The museum is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If that doesn’t satisfy your racing appetite, you can learn more about our rich racing history by visiting You can also watch some of the Cummins race cars in action by visiting the Cummins History YouTube playlist.


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